Puerto Rico’s Morales Sweeps Backstroke Events; Peru Wins Combined Team Title On Final Day Of Panam Aquatics Age Group Swimming Championships

By Sharon Robb
BALMAIN COUVA, Trinidad & Tobago, June 5, 2022–Yeziel Morales of Puerto Rico made it a clean sweep on the fourth and final day of the Panam Aquatics Age Group Swimming Championships Sunday at National Aquatic Centre.

Morales, 26, who trains with Azura Florida Aquatics and only Florida Gold Coast swimmer in the meet, won the 100-meter backstroke in 56.67, more than 3 seconds ahead of Peru’s Ricardo Willing.

Earlier in the meet, Morales also won the 200-meter backstroke by 7 seconds in 2:02.02 and 50-meter backstroke in 26.40.

“I felt confident going into my races, we put in a lot of training before this meet,” Morales said. “Even though I am not tapered for this meet because we have worlds coming up I am happy with my times.”

Ecuador’s Elvira Demera, 13, was a double winner on the final day in the 11-12 100-meter backstroke in 1:11.88 and 50-meter freestyle in 28.48, both best times.

Peru won the combined team title with 1,149 points ahead of Puerto Rico (1,073) and Trinidad & Tobago (818.5). Host Trinidad & Tobago won the men’s team title with 520.5. Peru also won the women’s team title with 628 points.

Among dignitaries attending the meet was FINA treasurer Dale Neuburger.

“In a single word, it’s been fantastic,” Neuburger told PanAm Aquatics guest interviewer Jordy Groters.

“The easiest thing to do during the pandemic and immediately afterwards is to not do something, to cancel, to say no. The willingness for PanAm Aquatics to host an important event like this and for Trinidad & Tobago’s swimming federation to host this event and all that goes along with it, they really are to be commended for it. It’s so easy to say ‘we can’t do something.’ It takes a lot to do this under tough conditions.”

Several countries chose not to compete because of other meets being held the same week and close proximity of the world championships.

“We had 17 nations here which is tremendous,” Neuburger said. “We are a couple of weeks away from a world championship. This has been a tremendous step forward. The success of this event by word-of-mouth will bring other federations, swimmers and coaches the next time.”

The meet attracted 232 athletes from 17 nations and served as a qualification meet for the 2023 Santiago Pan American Games. The four-day tournament, formally called the UANA Cup, is an elite championship for age group swimmers. The event had athletes from South America, Central America, British Commonwealth and Caribbean.

: 1. Peru 1,149, 2. Puerto Rico 1,073, 3. Trinidad & Tobago 818.5, 4. Jamaica 278.5, 5. Honduras 236.5.
WOMEN: 1. Peru 628, 2. Puerto Rico 561, 3. Trinidad & Tobago 250, 4. Jamaica 182, 5. Colombia 142.
MEN: 1. Trinidad & Tobago 520.5, 2. Peru 467, 3. Puerto Rico 460, 4. Honduras 159.5, 5. Surinam 118.

1500-meter freestyle: 11-and-over, 1. Emma Guglielmello, PUR 17:13.24, 2. Danna Moreno, ECU 17:19.51, 3. Tifany Jinete, COL 17:43.77.

100-meter backstroke: 11-12, 1. Elvira Demera, ECU 1:11.88; 13-14, 1. Carolyn Levy-Powell, JAM 1:08.10; 15-17, 1. Alexia Acuna, PER 1:04.21; 18-and-over, 1. Ornella Walker, TTO 1:04.18.

200-meter butterfly: 11-and-over, 1. Yasmin Contreras, PER 2:19.12, 2. Maria Machuca, PER 2:22.30, 3. Jennifer Posada, HON 2:22.61.

50-meter freestyle: 11-12, 1. Elvira Demera, ECU 28.48, 2. Karla Carrizo, PAN 28.94, 3. Astrid Cervantes, PER 29.38.

1500-meter freestyle: 11-and-over, 1. Diego Paredes, HON 16:12.43, 2. Caleb Serrano, PUR 16:36.70, 3. Adrian Papi, PER 16:39.62.

100-meter backstroke: 11-12, 1. Esteban Loncharich, PER 1:10.96; 13-14, 1. David Guevara, ECU 1:01.05; 15-17, 1. Zackary Gresham, GRN 59.54; 18-and-over, 1. Yeziel Morales, PUR 56.67.

200-meter butterfly: 11-and-over, 1. Victor Rosado, PUR 2:02.50, 2. Ariel Herrera, ECU 2:07.56, 3. Jose Olivo, PER 2:08.27.

50-meter freestyle: 11-12, 1. Carlos Carmona, PER 26.73; 13-14, 1. Zachary Anthony, TTO 24.79; 15-17, 1. Nikoli Blackman, TTO 22.71; 18-and-over, 1. Ricardo Willing, PER 23.88.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com